Cleveland may be a booming urban center, but its location offers much more than just industry and commerce. Being situated right on the banks of Lake Erie, straddling the Cuyahoga River, and just minutes away from a national park makes it one of the best cities for outdoor recreation in the Midwest. Better yet? You don’t have to go to a big-name park or national forest to get your nature fix: Thanks to its robust Metroparks system, you’ll find over 24,000 acres of parkland hidden throughout the Greater Cleveland area.
With so many adventure opportunities to choose from, it helps to rely on a little local expertise from the likes of Rachel Nagle. The outdoor recreation manager for Cleveland Metroparks is eager to share her favorite outings within Cuyahoga County.
1. Paddle Hinckley Lake
Grab a kayak or standup paddleboard and put in for a day of placid, flatwater paddling on 90-acre Hinckley Lake, located just south of Cleveland proper.
“Hinckley Lake is one of the gems within Cleveland Metroparks,” says Nagle. “You can see old beaver dams, and cormorants will paddle up next to you. It’s a great place for beginners to get out, experience nature, and get used to the water in a nice flatwater venue.” Rentals available at the Hinckley Lake Boathouse and Store.
Ready for the next level up? Intermediate paddlers can stage an expedition on the Lake Erie Water Trail, a 20-mile stretch that runs from Huntington Beach at one end of Cuyahoga County to Sims Park on the other.
2. Shred Singletrack at Mill Stream Run
To the southeast of the Cleveland metro area, you’ll find the Mill Stream Run Reservation, a verdant nature preserve that boasts about 10 miles of mountain biking trails suitable for both beginner and intermediate bikers. [Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]“It’s great for people who want to get their heart pumping and want to get some mileage in, and it’s beautiful terrain out there,” says Nagle. She adds that the Bedford Reservation farther east offers mountain biking trails that are even more beginner-friendly. (Before you visit either reservation, check online first for closures due to rain or mud.)